Sunday, April 25, 2010

How fast did the Snowman Burn?

I have to thank Zurich this year, it thoughtfully threw a party for me in honor of enduring the very long winter season! So, the party wasn't exactly for me, per say, but I did happily celebrate the beginning of the spring season with 20,000 other people in Zurich city.

Zurich has it's own 'groundhog' type day on the third Monday of April, celebrating it's Spring Festival called Sechseläuten. Throughout the weekend there are parades, music events, flags and parties to celebrate the eager arrival of Spring. However the main, and much anticipated event is the burning of the Böögg. This is a 10 foot snowman that sits atop a tower of flammable material, that is burned to signify the burning of winter. The rate at which the Böögg burns determines the quality of summer weather that is to come. The burning happens promptly at 6pm, the time dating back centuries when the 6:00 bell would ring to end the work day.

Ella and I went down to enjoy the festivities on Monday night and to watch the Böögg burn. As we were headed down the hill, before we made it to the crowds, we crossed paths with 4 camels. Yes, camels. They were being led through the streets, away from the festivities, and I have NO CLUE why they were there. Over the course of the evening, we saw no indication of why there would be camels, they were just out for a daily stroll, I suppose. After pushing our way through the crowds and watching the parade for awhile, admiring the horses and all the costumes, we went looking for a good vantage point to watch the snowman burn. I thought we had found a great spot to watch the burning without being trampled by the crowds. Sadly, I was wrong. About 5 minutes before 6pm, the size of the crowd felt like it doubled around us and we were locked into our spot with not even a tiny inch to spare around us. We held on tight, and held our breath, until the burning finished and we were free to push our way through the crowds to the our little house (which all of the sudden felt very roomy!) We were also very lucky that the ladies that were standing directly behind me, fell in love with Ella and wanted to help protect her from the pushing of the crowds. They helped me get Ella on my shoulders and back down again, then led us through the crowd when it was time to leave. Would I go again.... nope. I'll sit this one out next year. I'll happily stay at home and roast marshmellows in my own little celebration.

Oh, and it took 12:54 min for the Böögg to burn. 

I included a couple of our pics, but the two blogs below posted great pictures and explanations of the festival and it's history! Enjoy!

On our walk into the craziness

One of the Floats

The snowman before the blaze

The crowd that surrounded us (and this was while I could still get a pick)

Mr. Snowman lost in the smoke

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